outsourceTHE PROBLEM - Instant communicability has created an unprecedented expectation for all professionals to provide such instantaneous service, that it often seems that consumer-based desire for instant service gratification has reached "drive-through" proportions. A high quality typed document is often the final product representing the expertise and effort of most professionals. The rate limiting step in the provision a successful professional service, always depends on the constant availability and accessibility of reliable, experienced and highly skilled professional typists.

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Telephony continues to remain the dominant form of communication in business today. However, traditional telephony is now being joined by IP-based telephony options to reduce the cost of telecommunications and to increase communications options. In fact, the purchases of IP communications platforms in 2006 exceeded legacy phone systems for the first time in history and according to Synergy Research Group and InfoTech, IP platforms will comprise over 90% of all enterprise telephony purchases by 2010. Additionally, the small and medium-sized business (SMBs) market is expected to grow at a faster rate than the large enterprise market and is projected to represent 43% of total IP telephony shipments by the end of 2010.

online_feedbackThe Why: Don't fool yourself. Seeking feedback from clients is important. It's the most direct route to finding out what it is you're doing wrong. Finding the most effective way to obtain this information may depend on the kind of business you have and the nature of the particular client.

usbSince the introduction of USB ports in 1996, we have seen the introduction of just about any device one can imagine being offered with a USB port connection. Since then as most of us know, you should right click on the USB icon and select "Safely remove hardware" before removing the device.. Do we need to do this?

cleanscreenI have often wondered what the correct solution and method would be to clean a notebook screen. The notebook screen is not like the old CRT 14" monitors where we used to clean the them with Windolene and a cloth. The LCD screens are extremely sensitive and need to be handled with care.

nofacebookFacebook can be an enormous drain on your attention, but it can also be used as a marketing tool for both individuals and your firm. Banning Facebook altogether will create unneeded tension between management and attorneys, and is unlikely to create a boom in productivity. (Editor: Article has been removed from hosting site.)

drive_in_flamesIf you're like many other law firms out there, you probably aren't too worried about losing your information. But, according to DataPreserve, an online backup vendor overseas, "Nineteen out of twenty firms that lose their data due to a hard drive crash, tape malfunction, fire or other data disaster, will file for bankruptcy."

social_media_wagenLawyers can spend a ton of time using social media and not bring in new legal work. Lots of activity doesn't necessarily equate to progress.
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digital_certificateIntroduction: Best practice dictates you should use a digital certificate to access business computer systems over the Internet. To do so, you would need to register your details with a certificate authority or its subordinate registration authority, a process which can be frustrating at times. Registering with a recognised certificate authority or registration authority to be issued with a digital certificate should be a necessity; there are some real risks out there that you need to manage when transacting online.

weakest-linksSo you think that your legal vendor systems only need the internet to work if your use a SaaS (Software As A Service), like GMail? The answer is "no", many applications use the internet to function, even though they reside on your PC desktop.

paintintocornerI know a lot of people have never had to paint a floor, or even lay a cement floor, but I'm sure we can all imagine the task. Here is the question: Did you paint towards an exit - or did you paint yourself into a corner, far away from the exit?

Choosing your legal software vendor (LSV) is not as simple as seeing what it can do, and then signing on the dotted line.

contact-formsI have come across many lawyer websites with a problem. The site looks fine, they have good calls to action so that the user knows what to do. The user clicks on the "Contact Us" or "Free Case Evaluation" form only to find a looooong questionnaire asking for every detail short of their social security number. The user thinks about how long it will take to complete the form....and bolts.
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scamsLast week we saw another scam doing the rounds claiming to be from Standard Bank, so that you can confirm your account with them to avoid fraudulant activities on your account... nice! Here is a tip to work out if the email came from the bank or from somebody trying to rip you off!

securitySecurity Polices are a necessary evil in today's workplace. Without a comprehensive Security Policy, you are vulnerable to commercial piracy and phishing attacks. In this article, I will look at the measures that should be put in place to implement an effective security policy. Each policy should be flexible to satisfy your organisation's requirements. It's important that you know each will be unique in content, but defining it should follow some kind of model. In this article, I will highlight the fundamentals in defining your own Security Policy.

portabilityWe all get attached to our cellular or fixed line numbers, maybe not for sentimental reasons, but practical reasons. I changed cellular providers in January this year and ported my number across to the new network - through my experience and others using different providers, I can now help you make a better informed decision on cellular number portability.

emailsBulk email marketing is one of the most cost effective online methods for keeping in contact with clients. Thanks in large part to the introduction of spam mailing into our lives, bulk emailing has developed a bit of a bad reputation over the years. However, having said this, it should not be dismissed as the powerful (did we mention cost effective?) marketing tool that it is. If used correctly, bulk emailing can build trust, loyalty and develop your brand name with your clients.

software_devEvery now and then I hear about a law firm that decided to develop its own practice or case management software. In nearly all cases, the project has failed, but not before costing the firm a few million Rand. So just what makes a law firm get into software development?

documents_flyingThe majority of law firms use document assembly simply to insert merge fields into documents.  Of course that makes sense, since for most legal document templates this is all that's needed, and in fact simple merge fields or ‘stop codes' as they were called in the old days also bring the biggest gain in productivity from document assembly. But there are also those who don't think document assembly is necessary. For example, there is a perception in the profession that Microsoft Word® can create templates just fine on its own. In fact, many of the document assembly vendors themselves believe that document assembly software is only required for complex documents. Personally, I disagree.

help_keyWe have found that using Microsoft Word is more time consuming if one has to use the mouse for simple tasks. We have created a Word Shortcut Reference Card with a list of the easier and more often used functions in Word . There is a PDF copy of the reference card at the bottom of this article which you can download, print and laminate to keep next to your PC.

red_dahliaBefore I begin the cost comparison between colour and black and white laser printers, let me begin by warning you that there is a huge discrepancy in what vendors are charging for toner cartridges.  As an example, HP recommends a retail price of R1,089 (incl) for a toner cartridge to fit the "baby" P1006 laser printer. Two national chain stores price this cartridge at R899. But small resellers charge around R650 for the same cartridge. So lesson one: Shop around

key_2_successIf you have found yourself wondering why you or your company should invest in a website presence when you already have a more traditional marketing strategy in place, then perhaps you have not considered all the motivating factors that others have already found useful. Surveys conducted¹ have ascertained that people logging onto the Internet do so primarily for information, communication and research. Entertainment is the last check-box to be ticked.

crmDo you want to know how your customer relationship management database could do much of your marketing administration for you, as well as automatically ensure you target the right people with the right information at the right time and in the right way?
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court_presentationsA lot is at stake—power, money, reputation, future plans, justice. You need to win this case. Your presentation materials surely will play an important role in helping the judge and jury experience the sights, sounds, and details of the case … or not. The choice is up to you, says one tech-savvy attorney. It all depends upon whether you are willing to push PowerPoint beyond its normal boundaries to maximize its interactive and persuasive potential.
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twitterIt's not just for celebrities letting their fans know when they're headed to the gym or Iranian dissidents trying to duck bullets fired by the Basij. Lawyers might not be nearly as obsessed with social media as the rest of the world, but, here and there, a few have embraced some form of it. Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney IT litigation chair Francis "Frank" Taney Jr. uses Twitter for business ... and to discuss his beloved Phillies.
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data_privacyLaw Firms are agents of Banks in respect of many transactions they perform, and thus hold the personal information of those Banks customers in their electronic and paper records. Data Privacy Assessments and Audits from banks on their third parties should be expected by Law Firms who do Bank work. An assessment is a good chance to answer some difficult questions between the Business and the Information Technology stakeholders. The outcome of an assessment should be some remedial action to be taken to address weak points.

latin_writingDuring my years as a paralegal and candidate attorney, I was frequently asked by clients the meaning of various Latin legal terms. I have compiled the following list of simple explanations of some of the most commonly used Latin legal terms, which I hope will be of assistance in explaining various terms as simply as possible.

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What is Social Media? Still considered an emerging idea, and still relatively in its infancy, social media is something that is difficult to define. Social media is a general term covering interactive broadcasts such as blogs, as well as social networking web sites (think of Facebook). Why should you use these tools in your business?

confused_computerCache in browsers are generally a good thing, as they store data on your local computer, so that the browser does not have to go and download them off the web again, each time it needs the data. For example think of a logo on a page, and every page on the site has this logo, instead of fetching the logo each time, and downloaing it via the internet, would it not be faster to fetch the logo off the hard drive? Yep it would most definately be faster. Over time these become very large in file size, and for want of a better explanation the indexing of this cache can become corrupt, which will play havoc with your favourite banking site. Here are the steps to clear this area, should you encounter problems browsing, or should you run out of disk space.

email_3_tipsWe have days for lovers (Valentine's Day) and for heroes (Memorial Day), so why not a day for e-mail (Information Overload Awareness Day)? The Information Overload presentation was about far more than just e-mail, but e-mail leads the deluge of information for most workers. So let's deal with the deluge, use addressing fields correctly, and look at e-mail writing from the bottom up.
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blogInformation overload - no matter how important your issue is, no matter how desperately you seek answers - let's face it, wads of information presented in books or lengthy, annotated articles appeal to few individuals considering the fast-paced lives we all tend to lead these days. Seth Godin, popular business author, says that the internet has unfortunately taught people to read paragraphs and not chapters, and he is right!

top10A good article written by Kate Curfiss on whether you should change Practice Management systems or stay with what you have. Her conclusion? "I once heard a colleague of mine and well trusted legal technologist say that a practice management system is like a marriage. You do not throw it away when you hit a rough patch. Rather you forge through because of your investment. Think of the the needs analysis score card as a marriage counselor. It will help you determine whether it is worth the effort to keep what you have or find a new practice management soulmate." (editor: the article is no longer available, but this PDF download in the Read More will be a great help with advice on changing systems.
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typogIf you print your own briefs-as perhaps 99.99% of lawyers do-or just write a blog in your spare time, it makes sense to learn a bit about proper formatting, typography, and punctuation, all of which make your writing easier to read, and therefore more persuasive.
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ediscoveryEvery day, someone is predicting a sea change in the way we conduct discovery. However, due to the dogged nature of many litigators, the old "belt and suspenders" style of discovery persists. Many attorneys adhere to the philosophy of reviewing each and every document in the order that they find them. I am not here to predict the downfall of those who are sticking to that philosophy; in fact, I am quite sure that the old methods of approaching discovery will last eternally.

backupcdVery few law firms bother with backups. "It'll never happen to me" seems to be their view. The problem is that disasters do happen - for example theft of a server, fire, or disk failure. So is your firm prepared for a disaster? In this short article, I'll try and give you some logical rules for backups.

interconnectIn October 2008 Namibia's electronic communications operators (1) were hosted by the Information Communication Technologies' (ICT) Minister Joel Kaapanda to address ongoing call termination rate disputes (2) between the parties. The forum agreed to a initiate a study of termination costs, which was commissioned in January 2009 and by 1 June 2009 the Namibia Communication Commission (NCC) prescribed a new termination rate ceiling of N$0.60 (3) (down from N$1.06) with a glide path to N$0.30 by January 2011. How did this happen and can it happen in South Africa?

check_hddFinding electronic evidence has to be one of the most valuable ways to build an effective case - find information that either sparks non-electronic research, or use that evidence in court. Here Craig Ball shares tips on better discovery of electronic evidence. "ESI" means Electronically Stored Information. I must say I agree with all but one tip, which is asking the opposing party for their keywords. This article is split into two parts, use the "Read more" for the first, and click here for the second part.
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cmsIn the era prior to search engines such as Google - before the importance of search engine optimization (SEO) was fully understood by web developers and the business world - Content Management Systems (CMS) were invented to help companies large and small easily create and maintain their web sites without having to manually edit HTML code. Wikipedia is a prime example of a site that uses a CMS.

propinfoLast month we covered getting the person/company or property details pertaining to property ownership in the Durban Ethekwini area. This month we look at the City of Johannesburg area, with help from John Webber of Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr Incorporated.

signWith the entry of blogs, and networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, into the world of online communication, the much understated Email Signature has been largely relegated to the realm of Forgotten Marketing Tools.

datalockThe legal profession needs no instructions on the value of data and the information that it represents. Information is, after all, the lifeblood of the profession. With the almost universal dependence on digital data, contained on PCs, notebooks, servers and now even mobile devices, the question which looms large is whether or not appropriate measures are in place to protect that information and prevent its loss.

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